7.30.12 Cut the Mustard

Salad 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I'm not sure that subtle is a word that describes me, nor the food I cook. I'm pretty open about my thoughts and feelings, and equally forthright with the flavors on my plate. I'm fairly certain that I'm a supertaster, yet my highly attuned palate does not shy away from big, bold tastes. I love sharp pickles, lethal chiles and pungent aromatics like shallots and lime leaves. The complex funkiness of aged cheeses and fermented fish is mother's milk to me. I embrace brassicas of all sorts, with their often pronounced mustardy character and their wonderfully cruciferous texture. I shared a recipe for a kohlrabi and apple slaw earlier this year, a crisp and refreshing salad with a citrusy dressing, and I'm offering another one here, to encourage you to get acquainted with this often neglected member of the wild cabbage family. Look for tender young specimens at farmers markets now—in pale green or deep purple—and enjoy them raw in all their glory.
Kohlrabi 790 xxx
bulbous brassica

Kohlrabi has been created by artificial selection for its swollen, Saturn-like shape. In taste and texture it's similar to broccoli stems or the heart of a cabbage, though generally milder and sweeter with a thinner skin. Except for the Gigante type, spring-grown kohlrabi much over 3 inches tends to be woody, so go for small. I like to steam the larger ones and toss them with miso butter, or chunk them and cook them in stews and curries.

Kohlrabi leaf 790 xxx
leafy green

Kohlrabi is popular in Kashmir, where it is eaten along with its tender, frilly-edged leaves in preparations both mild and spicy. (I also came across this Indian kohlrabi pickle which looks incredible.) For a recent quick preparation to accompany a weeknight dinner of grilled Long Island mackerel, I decided not to temper the brassy brassica with sweetness but instead accentuated it with equally bossy flavors: shallots, capers and spicy mustard oil. 

Capers 790 xxx
a fine caper
Capers are edible flower buds that are cured in salt or pickled in brine. Go for the Italian ones in salt, if you can; they tend to retain a more pure flavor and meaty texture. Plop them into a bowl of water for a brief soak to remove the salt before using. Have you ever tried them fried? They make an excellent crunchy garnish for soups, pastas, salads. You can give them a brief dredge in flour to remove excess liquid, if you want, before tossing them into a hot skillet with a little olive oil. Simple and delicious.
Salad 2 790 xxx
a strong statement
Paper-thin slices of kohlrabi give this salad its beautiful combination of textures, both silky and crunchy. A very sharp knife is your friend here, or a mandoline would come in handy. A double whammy of Dijon mustard and hot mustard oil takes the dressing over the top, perfect with an assertive, oily fish like mackerel. Go for the bold.

Kohlrabi Salad with Capers & Mustard Oil

serves 2
  • — 1 shallot
  • — 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • — pinch sugar
  • — 1 tablespoon capers
  • — 4 small fresh kohlrabi
  • — 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • — 2 tablespoons mustard oil
  • — 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Peel and thinly slice the shallot and mix with the vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. 

Soak the capers in water in another small bowl.

Trim, halve and thinly slice the kohlrabi. Place in a medium bowl and toss with the mustard, oil, parsley and shallot mixture. Drain capers, coarsely chop and add to salad. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together. 

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be right over.
janet on July 30, 2012 at 11:30 am —
So beautiful and simple: perfect summer fare. I sauté kohlrabi with their greens, add cooked chickpeas and deglaze with balsamic vinegar, and although I love the dish, haven't experimented with kohlrabi much beyond that. I love this salad - and had never thought to have it raw. Saved this one to try. Oh, and I like bold, forthright, flavors too, with very little restraint. I'm sure that says something about my style and personality too :-)
The Wimpy Vegetarian on July 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm —
Kindred spirits, Susan...
laura on July 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm —
Perfect timing, I just bought a beautiful bunch of purple kohlrabi at the farmers market and needed a recipe! I also plan on making something with the pretty leaves. Thanks!
Suzinn Weiss on July 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm —
Suzinn, you could also incorporate the leaves in the salad if you wanted to...
laura on July 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm —
Will do, thanks!
Suzinn on July 31, 2012 at 12:01 am —